During the late ’80s and early ’90s, the researchers refined their list and ended up showing 78 clips to 494 undergraduates. Gross and Levenson hoped that various movies would get strong thumbs-up for eliciting amusement, or fear, or sadness, or contentment — but they didn’t always hit the mark. For example, their top fear-inducing movies, “The Shining” and “Silence of the Lambs,” ended up sparking too many other emotions as well.
In contrast, “The Champ” performed like … well, you know. The movie “produced levels of sadness that were much greater than those for any other emotion,” they wrote in their seminal 1995 paper, “Emotion Elicitation Using Films.”